Confused about the new GCSE grading system?

A numerical system of 9-1 will replace the current system of A*- G. 9 will be the highest achievable grade (formerly A*) and 1 will be being the lowest. However, grade U will still be used for those who do not achieve the minimum requirements for grade 1.

Grade 5 will be considered a 'good pass'. Performance tables will focus on students achieving grades 9-5. Formerly, grade C was classes as a 'good pass', but the new grade 5 will be equivalent to a low B or a high C. As such, a 'good pass' mark will become harder to achieve than in the old system.

The new system has been designed to reveal differences between candidates at the higher end of the spectrum. The current top two grades, A* and A, will be replaced with three top grades, 9, 8 and 7. Some people are referring to grade 9 as A**. It is estimated that it will only be awarded to approximately the top 3% of GCSE students.

The new GCSEs are being introduced in three stages over three years. English and Maths this year and the rest will follow.

New GCSEs in Maths, English language, and English literature started being taught in September 2015. GCSE English no longer exists; all students must instead take GCSE English language. Most will also take English literature as a separate subject though it is not compulsory. New GCSEs in English Baccalaureate/main curriculum subjects such as sciences, languages, PE, history and geography were introduced in September 2016. New GCSEs in all other subjects such as economics and media studies will be taught from September 2017.

2016/17 year 11 students are sitting new GCSEs in Maths, English language and English literature only. They will still be awarded 'old-style' GCSE grades in all other subjects. However, current year 10 students will take new GCSEs in most subjects. They may still be on an 'old-style' syllabus if they opt for a more unusual subject. Students who are currently in year 9 or below will take new GCSEs in all subjects.

Will they be more difficult?

The course content will be more demanding across all subjects. In English language, for example, students will be required to read a greater range of challenging material.

The majority of subjects will be assessed solely through exams taken at the end of two years of study.

For most courses, all students will sit the same paper instead of opting for a foundation or higher paper according to their ability. The main exception to this is maths, although it is worth noting that a lot of content previously only included in the maths higher paper will now also be tested at foundation level. November resits will only be available in Maths and English language. Alternative qualifications such as IGCSEs (International GCSEs) will no longer be an alternative.

Worried in case you don’t get the grades?

If you, or a friend, don’t get the desired grades, don’t panic. Colleges, including Stanmore College, offer a wide range of vocational study programmes across all levels and Stanmore offers a GCSE resit programme. By applying online and attending an interview you are likely to receive a conditional offer and, should you not meet the entry requirements, an alternative study programme can be discussed when you are invited to enrolment. BTEC students who achieve good grades are just as sought after as A level students with good results. These programmes can lead to employment, apprenticeships or university.

Did you know that:

95% of universities and colleges in the UK accept BTEC students

This includes many competitive universities from the Russell Group (a group of universities with a shared focus on reputation, academic achievement and research).

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